I AM AN APARTMENT BUILDING

i am an apartment building
way too new to look so old
the grass in my front yard
grows ancient and unkempt
it is manic vicious refuses to be cut
it climbs my stoop
where angry looking children
play dice games and punch each other
as hard as they can

my front door is red
you can see it from down the street
it sings like it wants something
it is trying to fill the unoccupied spaces
in my body

there are plenty of vacant spaces left within me
squatters decorate the rooms with their presence,
their knick knacks their petty sentimental garbage
and i’ve grown to cherish what they leave inside of me
if only temporarily

in the room of my head
there is a jazz club with a roof garden
the walls are rich thick wood
and the view is spectacular
the whole city is technicolor after a rainstorm from there

the jazz club is always kickin busy on the weekends
women in breathing black dresses sway to the wind blowing through
pulled along by men in nice suits with fancy hats
who know how to swing dance
they all appreciate the bass player
the way he tugs at his strings in the shadows
unseen but resonating in the blood of the party
the music is rarely driven by the words
it is all just tasteful chaos in here
on the best weekends the ghost of charlie parker comes
and plays his saxophone like he died doing that

the weekdays at the jazz club are hungover and dreary
the tables are messy, the help keep their hands full
clearing off the half full half empty wine glasses
they scrub the scuff marks out of the floors
they water the plants and they see the city around me
in the morning, when its ugly birthmarks are exposed
but they all find it beautiful and it is, just the same

in apartment number 303
there is a mad man, a painter, an artist
pacing like he, pacing like he, pacing like he
can’t finish his painting, he’s stuck, he can’t do it
he cringes in the empty corners, he holds his shins
he inspects the flecks of color on his denim jeans
he is neurotic, useless, talking to his easel and he
is lost, distant, unavailable, phone turned off, mailbox full
he has learned the art of not calling back credit card companies
he stares out windows like the world is staring in at him
he looks around paranoid for the telescopes and the spies
that probably aren’t there, but you can’t be too sure
he heard a crackle on the phone line, he keeps his chain lock on
and he has been known to play music to drown out the madness
of his babblings from the twisted ear listening in
he still hasn’t thought about his painting

in apartment 207
there’s a mother and a father with a brand new baby girl
and a jealous little boy who had to realize
there is a small possibility he is not the center of it all
they rock the little girl asleep and the boy goes out to the patio a lot
he watches the woman draining her soaked sheets the floor below
sometimes he’ll catch the rambling painter creating smoke above him
he looks out at the city like it isn’t real
like it’s something he made up to pass the time between now and then

the mother and father put the kids to bed at nine
the boy just lays awake restless in his dark bed
while the father puts a record on, gently places the needle
and him and the mother dance on yesterday’s newspaper
so they don’t spill wine on the rented carpet
they are careful not to wake their children with their need to love

the architect who designed this building must have been on drugs
there are staircases that don’t go anywhere
and there are attics where there should be basements
there are furnace rooms where there should be janitor closets
and there is this constant creaking
like the floors aren’t going to last much longer

in apartment 808
the bass bumps at inappropriate hours of the night
there is a black poet who lives there
who hums om to the radio until the frequencies pour through him
and he releases onto the white page of america
a cataclysmic inspired verse of devastating honesty
a drum beat manufactured from pieces of the artist soul
and held together with the glue of audacity
he carves his letters deep into the paper
in all caps with the taste of jaeger biting the ink

sometimes in the middle of the night
ghosts bang on his door, claw at the wood, moan in anger
but he never answers them, he just puts his headphones on
and sinks into the weight of horn-honking reality

in apartment 102
there is a 17 year old girl who ran away from home and lives alone
her boxes are half-unpacked and the rancid air is half-baked
as absurd as it sounds, she is building a tree in her windowless apartment
she is teaching it how to not need to be watered
but how to drink what is within you
she has a doll that she is teaching how to be a lady with your legs uncrossed
and how to love yourself more than anyone else ever could
because nothing is ever as unpredictable as someone else’s heart
she drew a painting of a window to hang on her wall
to feel like she can see what is outside of her room
there are mirrors all over her apartment, though she never looks in them

this building is not young
it has its history
there are plenty of people
who have been buried
beneath the floorboards
there is not really anything
to get bloodstains out of carpet

the ghosts they meander where and when they want to
they have no conception of daylight moonlight
they are not being afraid of being seen
they have learned that there is a beauty to be invisible
there is a certain power that comes with being dead
they mostly dance with one another
the hard part for them is always letting go
when the music stops, when that great something
evicts them from my apartment building

the wallpaper in the halls is peeling
the tenants take their hands and try to push it back up
but it wants to fall
reveal that beneath repetitive floral patterns
is porous walls that haven’t breathed in centuries

there is a great coat rack in the foyer
that will hold the hats of strange male guests
and the secrets of lonely old-fashioned women
it will hold the hands of crying honesty
and it will put your coat on your shoulders when you’re cold

in apartment 719
there is a couple that only leaves to let out the dog
to fetch the paper that they never read and to
buy the groceries that they’re so sick of buying
and they fight like the room had poisoned them
and they yell like they hoped someone would hear
the floor is broken dishes, the living room
is an out-of-business wedding chapel where they
look through old photographs that are starting
to not look like them anymore

in apartment 117
there is a back door that a tenant leaves unlocked
and on cold city nights, a couple sneaks in
and they lay on the bed that doesn’t have any sheets
and they take each other’s clothes off with their teeth
and they stare at each other naked and the talk to each other naked
and they find that after the roar of the heat of their sex
after they roll around on someone else’s bed
they find that they only want to stare at each other’s eyes
blinking and watching them dilate like ecstatic black holes
they leave scratches on each other’s backs
sometimes they write things in each other’s skin
“i would have kissed you while the twin towers fell”

sometimes they lay on their backs and watch the fan blades turn
in the heat of the summer they let open the back door
and they don’t worry about getting caught
because they haven’t really done anything wrong

the tenants change, the rooms get better then worse
the landlord mostly keeps out of the building
except for an occasional late night call
where he shows up with a flashlight and a wrench
and a midnight hangover to fix the frozen pipes

everyone shares the same washer and dryer there
everyone pays the rent as late as they possibly can
everyone knocks on someone else’s door at some point

i am not a model home
filled with hypnotic real estate agents
thick wallets yapping their mouths up and down
and little pieces of cheese pierced by toothpicks

i am not a suburban ranch style home
with sparkling floors and one family that i hold dearly

one of these nights
one of my tenants will be drunk and reckless
passed out in oblivion on some shitty couch
they will forget they turned the burner on
the hot stove will set fire to the walls
i will burn down and those who occupy me
will flee in quick fast lines
but once they are safe
they will turn and watch me go
taking with them what they can

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO

READ “WAKA”

About these ads

THE KIDS’ TABLE

at the grown ups’ table
the adults compare incomes through
cleverly disguised
vacation stories

at the grown ups’ table
they lace the expensive wine with traces
of spanish inquisition

at the grown ups’ table
everyone is wearing
fresh-pressed suits and pretty dresses above
the table but underneath
the table they sharpen their
knives with the steely edges of their
manicured claws

at the grown ups’ table
everyone makes a specific point
to compliment someone’s meat loaf
casserole, to play
advocate to someone’s ambrosia salad
while carefully ignoring someone’s
homemade raspberry vinaigrette
dressing

at the grown ups’ table
someone isn’t mentioning to someone else
that there is a tiny dated speck of political agenda
stuck between someone’s
grinded white teeth

at the grown ups’ table
there is assigned seating and you will be
tested on your acquired knowledge of
chilled salad fork,
soup spoon,
and when you toast
how appropriately you bang
your obnoxious knife against your
crystal wine glass (ideal for
riesling, just a sin to use for
cabernet sauvignon)

at the grown ups’ table
someone is offering to take your plate for you
so they can plot your social murder in the trenches
of the granite countertops of their
catalog kitchen

at the grown ups’ table
dessert means coffee and coffee means
conversation and conversation
means mental minesweeper; psychological warfare
over a lovely blitz torte served on the
second finest china in
this
american
household

meanwhile
at the kids’ table
everyone is playing with each other’s food
squished together at the colorful plastic table
and laughing at each other’s
jokes

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2012

READ “LOVE AND ITS FAMOUS IMITATIONS”

LOVE AND ITS FAMOUS IMITATIONS

somewhere out in the world
there is a couple on a park bench
tongues rammed down each other’s throats
and they pause to breathe
and she is feeding him chocolate
and he is feeding her bullshit
and they are eating it box after box
watching a ravenous ball of flame
crash repetitively defiantly into the horizon
and they are holding hands
like mangled scissors in a drawer
like tangled wires behind the t.v.
they are holding hands terrified
they might lose the other
but more accurately
they are terrified of being alone
within themselves instead of without

but no
they will share a bed
and he will cook her breakfast
and she will pretend to be asleep
and they will dress up for easter
they will kiss for the photograph
they will make love for the anniversary
they will become one giant couples costume
and they will die in the same grave
every night
never alone, always lonely
scared and humbled by the suburban dream
the flipping of channels in the den
and the children out back with the dogs
as under the same roof they live separate lives
conjoined twins in parasitic symbiotic cacophonous unison
and each morning the ring wants to fall down the drain
the pictures want to break
the flowers in the yard want to die
and they make love like puzzle pieces
they are two halves of a half
two holes of a whole
they are drowning in the ocean
of sincere misplaced trust
and the opulent reflection
of someone else’s sunshine
on their shallow lake
their handshake
contractual agreement
their non-violent shotgun wedding
two lives
wasted
feeding off the other’s
oxygen

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2012

READ “THE CYCLONE AT LAKESIDE”

YOU’RE GONNA REGRET IT

tell the nurse your story, darling
tell her what you’ve seen
we’ve been going through the motions
since the beginning of time

angels wrapped in cellophane
devils wrapped in love
we kiss each other’s wounds
and we suck each other’s blood

let’s try and forget this ever happened
the everything and the aftermath
the crash collision of happiness
against the concrete road to god

it’s suicide bombers playing guitar
on music television to the sound
of aluminum foil in a blender
the sound of absolute fear of losing
the one you love and that glint of hope
left in your blood shot eyes

corpses fall like dominoes
zombies inherit the earth
this is our american horror story
this is AM radio turning itself on
this is the snowy television screen
the blinking of electricity
the sound of the husband next door
beating his wife
the coffins we decorate
the pillows we fluff
and the children we raise
to be just like dear old mom and dad

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2012

READ “A POEM’S APOLOGY”